Charlotte Malone is the owner of a successful bridal boutique and is quickly building a reputation for being able to match brides with their perfect wedding dress. If only she found it as easy to find a dress for her own wedding to Tim. Then again, it’s not like Charlotte has really been looking for one. Or addressing her invitations. Or doing much planning of any kind. For reasons she’s not even sure of, something just doesn’t feel right. But she knows she loves Tim, so she ignores her reservations, chalking it up to pre-wedding jitters.
"THE WEDDING DRESS is a beautiful love story (four love stories, really), spanning 100 years and tied together by four unique women. There is a slight “magical” feel to the whole thing, which some may find a little too 'out there' for Christian fiction, but I found it delightful."
When Charlotte attends an auction at the grand Ludlow estate sale, she is drawn to a battered trunk that’s been welded shut. The auctioneer insinuates that something pretty special must be locked up inside. Charlotte doesn’t have any extra cash to spend on anything at the sale, let alone an ugly old trunk like this one. Before she realizes what she’s doing, though, she finds herself not only placing a bid on the trunk, but also out-bidding everyone else. The only thing stranger than winning the item is the receipt she’s given, which states that the trunk has been “redeemed for $1,000.”
Not long after the auction, Charlotte and Tim come to a mutual decision to end their engagement. Charlotte pours herself into her work and tries to figure out how to open the trunk to find out what’s inside. Of course, the title of the book gives the secret away. And eventually Charlotte breaks the seal and pulls out the wedding dress. Not just any wedding dress, it appears to be at least a hundred years old, yet seems to be brand new. Charlotte is in awe and soon gets caught up in trying to uncover the history of this mysterious dress. And she may just find that it has something to do with her own history --- and future --- as well.
When I first read the synopsis of the book, I assumed it would be a journey through time, following the dress from one owner to the next. While it’s about four women who wear the dress, the story is intricately woven together in a unique way that entwines the characters in random order. Charlotte is the modern-day bride-to-be (or not-to-be, as the case may be). Two of the previous brides --- Hillary and Mary Grace --- are introduced within Charlotte’s story, and we meet the original owner, Emily, through flashbacks. I personally found Emily to be the most fun and interesting (and feisty) of the four and looked forward to getting back to her scenes. Emily’s story and how the dress came to be was charming. Author Rachel Hauck does a marvelous job fitting the pieces together and making each woman come alive on the page.
THE WEDDING DRESS has a similar feel to THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, in which one pair of pants somehow fits four differently shaped women without alterations. The wedding dress in this story also needs no altering; it miraculously fits each bride like it was made just for her. According to the author’s note at the end of the book, the ever-fitting wedding dress could be symbolic of our salvation, and how the gospel of Jesus Christ “fits” everyone --- regardless of circumstance, our past, or our sins. We only need to “put it on” to receive this wonderful gift.
THE WEDDING DRESS is a beautiful love story (four love stories, really), spanning 100 years and tied together by four unique women. There is a slight “magical” feel to the whole thing, which some may find a little too “out there” for Christian fiction, but I found it delightful. If you’re already a fan of Hauck’s writing, this book will not disappoint. If you’ve never read any of her works, THE WEDDING DRESS may help you discover a new favorite author to add to your shelf.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on July 18, 2012